On receiving my first piece of email from the Soviet Union
Date: Mon, 4 Feb 91 11:27:07 EST
If Gorby loses his country's support, there may be civil war.
Naively (me naive?) I used to think a repressive govt couldn't hold
down an `enlightened' society, but Tienamen(sp?) square changed my
I've been reading an interesting set of books -- _The Politics of
Nonviolence_, by Gene Sharp. In it, he makes the point that a leader
leads only when his countrymen will follow. There are a number of
reasons why people obey, but they are not fixed, and obedience is not
certain and cannot be forced. If you want someone to dig a ditch, and
he refuses, and you apply the ultimate sanction and kill him, you end
up with a dead man and an undug ditch.
He also makes the point that nonviolent action is not so very different
from violent action in many aspects, one being that its success is
not certain. Viz Tienannmen Square.
The reality exists for this fellow to literally lose his head for
saying he wanted to move to our country. If the army takes over,
it could be messy business over there.
Yes. But if enough people want freedom, they will have it, in spite
of any amount of killing that the army does. Of course, I believe
that they will be more successful using nonviolent action.
Also, I've grown increasingly wary of Gorby. I now think he's a
two-faced liar who is only interested in promoting an image of
peace. Lithuania and his other acts of unprovoked murder are
Gene also points out that obedience is never forced, even (and
especially) in the upper levels of government. There's a great quote
from Truman (approximately): "I pity poor Eisenhower. He'll sit
behind this desk (tapping the desk for emphasis), and order this
thing, and order that thing, and NOTHING will happen." Even as late
as 1958 Eisenhower continued to be surprised that orders didn't carry
There's also a quote from a Roosevelt Cabinet official (again,
approximate): "You never have to do anything the first time a
President suggests some course of action. The second time he asks,
you can say that you're studying the issue. The third time, you had
better do it. But, the President will rarely ask for something three
My point is that, given the shaky state of the Russian government, and
the amount of change that Gorby is trying to bring about, it wouldn't
surprise me if some of the more conservative elements are simply ignoring
For better or worse, people always do what *they* want, and they may choose
to continue doing it even if you apply sanctions. Which is to say that
you can't take a person's freedom away from them, they can only give it up.
Last modified: Thu Jul 27 10:52:53 EDT 2000